Originally created 05/12/02

Youngsters' ideas go head-to-head



East Augusta Middle School pupil Earnest Jones used a permanent marker Saturday to illustrate two worlds: one with pollution and one without.

Earnest and three of his classmates traveled to the University of Georgia's Savannah River Ecology Conference Center, near New Ellenton, to participate in the second annual EcoMeet. The event was organized by the CSRA Environmental Science Education Cooperative.

Sixty-six middle school pupils, most from the Augusta area, put their environmental know-how to the test. Pupils studied for several weeks beforehand and were tested on wetland ecology, pollution prevention, wildlife habitat and forestry.

They also presented solutions to ecological problems.

On one half of Earnest's easel, he depicted a world with acid rain and rampant littering. On the other, he drew a place where household items were easily recycled and cars ran on solar power.

"It's so no gas goes into the ozone," Earnest said.

Getting pupils to think about and see science in motion makes learning about it more exciting for them, said Rosemary Forrest, public relations coordinator for the event.

"We feel like we're supporting science education in schools," she said.

Teachers agreed.

Nicki Coneway and Lori Adolphus, teachers at T.J. Elder Middle School in Sandersonville, Ga., organized after-school study groups to prepare for the event.

"(Coming here) gives them a chance to see how they impact the environment," Ms. Adolphus said.

Pupils at T.J. Elder won the event last year. Though they didn't take home the trophy this year, the pupils remained excited.

"If you see the trees out here, you can identify them better than if you see them in a book," Rebecca Thiele said.

Participants took nature walks, watched demonstrations about wildlife and studied better ways to recycle.

"It's important to preserve (the environment) for future generations," said Randi Larimore, a T.J. Elder pupil.

The Savannah River Site Pollution Prevention team provided some of the materials used to prepare for the event. Members of the group said they want the middle-schoolers to look for new ways to prevent pollution.

THE WINNERS

Sixty-six pupils from 11 middle schools competed in the second annual EcoMeet environmental challenge at the University of Georgia's Savannah River Ecology Conference Center on Saturday.

Rabun Gap Middle School won first place; Harlem Middle School, second, and Wrens Middle School, third.

Reach Josh Gelinas at (803) 279-6895 or josh.gelinas@augustachronicle.com.